GeneralWaste Systems & Recycling

How to Pack Zero Waste Lunches For Your Kids

Keeping up with a sustainable lifestyle with children can be a difficult feat. Kids make messes, and messes create garbage. Kids want things they believe they need, and sometimes it’s very tough to say no. They probably don’t understand the refrain – reduce – reuse – recycle concept either, but there are things you can do to assure your child is playing their part for the planet, even when they’re not under your watch.

First things first, don’t use the typical brown paper bag for your kid’s lunch. Buy them their favorite superhero or princess lunchbox (preferably tin) or another recyclable material. This way when they grow out of it, the lunchbox itself doesn’t become waste. By putting the re-usable container to use, you will dodge throwing away 2,160 bags (on average) over the course of your child’s educational career.

The next helpful tools you’ll need to pack a zero-waste lunch are tiffin carriers. For those who don’t know what tiffins are, they’re a South Asian version of the lunchbox. A tiffin carrier has two or three tiers where food can be separated and stored for a later use. Tiffins are typically metallic and can be used over and over again. For example, you may choose to pack fruit and vegetables. The Tiffin carrier’s tiers are a good alternative to plastic snack baggies because one tier can be designated to the fruits, and another to the vegetables. Some tiffin carriers may even be insulated and able to store foods like rice, beans, and meats.

Mason jars are also another sustainable solution to lunchtime organizers. Virtually anything can be stored in a mason jar, but a very popular use for them is for storing salads and salad dressing. By packing a larger mason jar with things like lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, etc. and using a smaller (maybe 4 oz.) mason jar for the dressing, you have an excellent salad come lunch that is not soggy, and has reusable storage containers.
Sandwiches are probably the most common lunch for kids and can’t always fit properly in the tiffin container, and definitely, don’t fit in a mason jar. With that being said, a zero-waste advocate and avid blogger, Kathryn K, suggests using a baby bindle as packaging. She simply places the sandwich on top of the laid out baby bindle, folds over the edges and ties a knot to secure the sandwich.

Though it may sound a bit overwhelming for a little kid to be taking tiffin containers and glass mason jars to school, with the right instruction and help from teachers of the young-ins, your efforts won’t be put to waste. Remind your child that every time he or she eats their lunch, they’re saving the world. It’s almost like a super power if you really think about it.


K, Kathryn. “How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch.” Going Zero Waste. N.p., 11 Apr. 2016. Web. 08 June 2017.

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